The Immigration Debate

This has been a very emotional topic here in the United States of late.  With 11 Million illegal immigrants in the country, it IS  a big issue not just because of the sheer number of people involved, but more importantly, the economic and social impact that number has on the bigger picture.

I am an immigrant myself.  However, I was lucky enough to have come here properly documented, and soon I will be filing for my citizenship.  I know of people who have braved it all, overstayed their visas and gone TNT.  (Tago ng tago)  Friends have sought my advice and I have discouraged friends and family from going that route, only because it is such a bad trade off despite the lure of dollars and a supposedly better life.

The issue at hand is what is America to do with all these undocumented aliens who are now a huge part of American society.  A bill has been filed in Congress that would make it a crime to be an illegal alien, and it makes those who help/employ illegal aliens criminally liable.  President Bush, for his part, has been pushing for a “Guest Worker” Program that will allow more open employment for aliens given certain restrictions.  This is important to the huge corporations which openly employ illegals because they are paid much lower wages and have little or no benefits available.  (See, in this land of milk and honey, a social security number is necessary to avail of employment benefits, and you don’t get a social security number unless you are authorized to stay here — meaning you are a LEGAL and not illegal alien.)

Hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens have taken to the streets all over the country militantly protesting against this move of the government to curtail the continued influx of undocumented aliens, particularly those who walk across the border on the West Coast where certain states share a border with Mexico.  At the same time, many Americans are angered and have resorted to forming civilian groups to “protect their homeland.”  In many cases in those states by the American border, this has become a literal struggle as fences are broken and cattle stray, stretches of land become garbage dumps for the refuse (both human and otherwise) of those who trek to the so-called land of milk and honey.

It’s a very emotional issue — but only in America will you see illegal aliens criticizing the government of their host country for wanting to push them out.  So I was wondering in my Pinoy mind what we Filipinos in Manila would think if, let us say, the Taiwanese came in droves, or our Indonesian neighbors decided to swim across to our southern shores and started taking jobs which are already scarce for fellow Filipinos.  [ ————- Pause for effect ————– esep, esep, esep..]

How would we feel if Mandarin or Bahasa, let us say, suddenly became the second predominant language, with signs and announcements now being done in Tagalog and this second language?  (Flashback to those violent riots against the Chinese in Indonesia..)  Here in the US, you call your bank to get your balance, after the usual welcome comes another voice speaking in Spanish offering you to push 2 to continue in Spanish.

Both sides are poised to fight as a matter of survival.  Why are the protesters shouting this law will break up families?  Because many undocumented aliens have given birth to children here who are by law now American Citizens, but whose status does not confer the same privilege and status to their illegal alien parents.

I agree that America is made up of immigrants from all over the world.  They are who make up America.  But the country is in bad shape, and its economy is taking a beating from all fronts.  When you start disenfranchising the locals, you have a tendency to breed resentment towards newcomers. 

The African Americans are no longer the biggest minority here in the US.  Yet they have been here for centuries.  The Latinos stand to lose the most, and we Filipinos have our TNTs in the hundreds of thousands.. perhaps even a million.  I’m watching how this will go.

You have a president who is ending a second term and he doesn’t have re-election to worry about.  Not exactly the best president this country has had — but his homestate of Texas is one of those who will be gravely affected any which way this bill goes.  Se Habla Espanol?

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